As mentioned above the state ranks near the center of the nation for all STD’s. The state is 17th in chlamydia infections, and 15th in gonorrheal infections. More women than men suffer, at 2.2 more women testing positive for the infection every year. In 2013, 839 people tested positive for HIV, out of a population of 6.4 million.
While these numbers are average among the nation, the state is continuing to push for more residents to get STD testing, due to the fact that STD rates are rising in the state. Since 1999 STD’s have risen consistently, with the exception of the dip in 2007. There were nearly 10,000 cases of chlamydia among the 20-24 age group in 2013, with an alarming growth rate for hepatitis in the same year.
Syphilis also remains an issue, with the state ranking 29th out of 50 in the nation. From 2009 to 2013, there were 36 cases found in this state. The CDC finds that 58.7% of high school students have reported having sex without a condom, further encouraging the spread of disease, and the urgency to make sure every person knows how to get regular STD testing.
Luckily, the rate of positive HIV tests dropped to 712 in 2015, but this change isn’t significant enough for the state to drop in national ranking. Residents need to be tested regularly, and STD’s need to be monitored to slow yearly rates.
On May 10,2012, State Law SB 3310 was passed, making “Gateway Sexual Activity” illegal. This means that any teacher caught teaching students about any method of sexual safety other than abstinence could be fined. Statewide, teachers are only allowed to talk about abstinence and the benefits of waiting for marriage, despite the teen’s past sexual activities. Specifically, the law prohibits the following, but fails to identify what exactly constitutes “gateway sexual activity”:
- Promoting any gateway sexual activity or message encouraging students to participate in non-coital sexual acts
- Provide materials on school grounds encouraging sexual activity among students
- Conduct demonstrations with devices created for sexual stimulation
- Distribute contraception of any type on school property
As the law does not clearly mark what activities are gateway activities, it seems to be difficult to follow. As the chart above proves, however, the state cannot afford to ignore the fact that certain STD’s, such as HIV continue to spread among residents.
However, as adults, residents have a plethora of educational services, such as the STD Prevention Field Services. This program provides adults with:
- Confidential counseling and treatment for those infected with an STD
- Diagnosis verification from private and public providers
- Partner referral services to provide confidential notification to partners
- Educational services to at-risk adult populations
It seems that the state has a safety net for anyone contracting an STD, but only if that person is no longer in high school. The education in this state may come too late for some, who might contract an STD such as HIV in high school through lack of education, and live with the disease forever.
One of the biggest reasons why residents don’t get STD testing in this state is a simple lack of education. When high school students, who are still children mentally but becoming adults physically, do not receive information on how to protect themselves, they stand at a higher risk for contracting an STD. Their natural risk-taking behavior, without education, leads them to make spontaneous decisions. Without the proper education, these decisions are unguided, and often cause the teen to harm him or herself.
When putting aside statewide education habits and looking specifically at concentrated cases of HIV in the state, it’s interesting to learn that HIV is most concentrated in the counties with the biggest cities. Davidson County, Shelby County, and Haywood County had the largest number of HIV cases in 2013; these counties hold the largest cities in the state. The state capital, Nashville, lies in Davidson County, while Memphis is in Shelby County. With over 600,000 people in both Nashville and Memphis, it’s easy to understand the overcrowded population.
Between a population with tight living quarters and a lack of high school education, it makes sense that people are not getting tested regularly for STD’s. If a student doesn’t know how, or where, to get tested, and lives in one of these overly populated cities, the result is a person contributing to the possibility of raising the HIV rate in these counties. People do not get tested in this state, because they do not know enough, or because they are living in compact areas.
Better Sexual Health with STI Testing
Understanding what to do to stay healthy and prevent STDs falls on the shoulders of the residents. Getting tested regularly at a confidential, fast facility means getting back out there to explore everything, from the mountains to the path walked by many of the nation’s country stars. Sightseeing, enjoying the countryside, or living it up in any of the major cities is much more fun than staying at home, sick with an STD. Get regular testing by making one fast phone call, spend less than half an hour in a lab, then be on your way to an amazing day of endless possibilities. Make the phone call now to stay on course, stay educated, and stay healthy in this beautiful state of endless possibilities.